Try taking a picture of the moon with a smartphone from a few years ago and it won’t look much more than a white blob in the sky. Samsung introduced 100x Space Zoom with the Galaxy S20 Ultra and with it the ability to take stunning pictures of the moon. It obviously wasn’t just the camera sensor capturing the moon in incredible detail, it was helped by the camera AI.
Samsung has improved its ability to capture moon shots with every iteration since then. The latest Galaxy S23 Ultra does the best job. Samsung says that “no image overlaying or texture effects are applied” for such shots and while that’s technically true, the new camera setup is still helped by AI/ML processing.
Cameras relying on AI processing isn’t news
That’s not quite the controversy that a recent thread on reddit is making it out to be. The gist of it is that Samsung is relying on artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable your Galaxy S23 Ultra to capture great moon shots.
This is done through a neural network that’s trained on countless images of the moon so it’s able to add texture and detail to the final image that the camera sensor is unable to catch. It’s far from the outright fabrication that Huawei has been accused of in the past, where the handset would just apply an overlay of the moon on the photo, leading users to believe that was the actual camera capability.
Samsung has mentioned that the AI model it’s using has been taught on various shapes, from full to the crescent moon, based on images that people can see with their eyes. So it’s not indulging in deceptive marketing. Could it be more clear about the technical aspects? Absolutely, but try fitting that in an ad spot that has to capture the customers’ attention in a few seconds.
The exceptional zoom capability of the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn’t just to take photos of the moon. As we’ve highlighted in our Galaxy S23 Ultra review, its utility goes far beyond that. Whether you want to capture a point of interest way further down the road or a signboard that’s too far for the eye to see, the 10x optical and 100x digital zoom more than gets the job done.
All smartphone cameras rely heavily on software-based processing. Unless you’re shooting in RAW, which Samsung has made very easy to do with Expert RAW, the images you capture with your phone have received a helping hand. Even the iPhone and Pixel’s much-loved cameras use AI processing to spruce up their images. So let’s not rake Samsung over the coals for no reason.